A Gastronomical Affair – Chinese cuisine

Close-up of Nigiri sushi with salmon held between chopsticks
Close-up of Nigiri sushi with salmon held between chopsticks

A gastronomical affair

Chinese food primarily involves noodles and rice tossed with vegetables or meats of your choice with their extra zing of sauces and seasonings. But if you have Diabetes and are worried on what you should be eating, then let Deepti Sharma and Spandana Birajdar help you make the right choices.

Authentic Chinese

Chinese food has a distinctive culinary style of its own. They emphasise mainly on fresh, seasonal ingredients prepared with minimum fuss and beautifully balanced texture, colour and presentation. Their cuisines mainly involve

Stir-frying – a classic Chinese cooking method which involves tossing meats and vegetables in a minimum amount of oil and serving them piping hot.

Steaming – Chinese cooking involves steaming food in bamboo containers which can be stacked on top one other. The most famous examples of steaming are dim sums, dumplings, buns and steamed fish. A major portion of their food is usually steamed making them very nutritious and healthy.

Red Stewing/Red cooking – The food is cooked very slowly over low fire. Meats are usually browned first, then large quantities of soy sauce, sugar, wine or sherry, ginger, five spices, chilli powder, cilantro and other seasonings are added, together with water or broth. The sauce is rich and dark brown; hence the descriptive name "red stewing".

Boiling – The ingredients are washed and cut first, then plunged into boiling water until just tender. Vegetables can be cooked this way and served with a sauce. One good example is Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce. This method of cooking preserves colour, texture, shape and nutrition.

Roasting – Most delicacies (meats) are cooked this way.

Poaching – This method is especially good for cooking delicate fish in a clear broth until just done.

Note: Original Chinese food does not use butter or excessive amounts of oil, salt as well as spices making the overall food healthy and retaining the originality of the flavour and nutritive value of vegetables and meat. Hence this cuisine is very healthy.

Indian Chinese

This type of Chinese food has been adapted to Indian taste. The food tends to be flavoured with spices such as cumin (jeera), coriander (dhania) seeds and turmeric. The culinary styles often seen in Indian Chinese fare include chilli (implying hot and batter-fried), Manchurian (implying a sweet and salty brown sauce) and Szechwan (implying a spicy red sauce). These correspond only loosely, if at all, with authentic Chinese food preparation.

If you like eating Chinese food but don't know what to choose from you can start your meal with

Salad – they contain a lot of greens like broccoli, bean sprouts, asparagus, leaks, chives and bok choi. They have minimal or no oil and are tossed lightly with lime. The salads are not coated with heavy dressing making them very light and easy to digest. They are usually freshly prepared, high in fibre and nutritious.

Soup – if you like soups then opt for soups which are not oily, prepared in thick gravy but soups which contain fresh vegetables and just boiled and contain minimal seasoning for added taste. Try the mixed vegetable soup which is full of green vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, bok choi, which not only give you the feel good factor but also is easy on the waist. Also, clear vegetable soup or clear chicken soup are best in this category.

Wonton/Dim sum/Momos – these starters in any Chinese menu offer a wide variety from being steamed, pan fried and deep fried. If you are not a fan of steamed wonton/dimsum/momos you can try the fried version. Since these are just bite size and served in quantities of not more than 5 or 6 per plate. A bite or two won't affect your health. However do keep in mind to balance the rest of your meal with healthier options. These tiny dumpling are usually filled are usually filled with minced vegetables, meat or fish and don't contain any oil or added fat in the filling.

Manchurian – if you like gobi (cauliflower) Manchurian or assorted Manchurian try opting for the steamed Manchurian instead of the fried one. It is very healthy and satisfies the palate too. Although the thought of eating just steamed vegetables may be daunting, they do have intense flavours and the taste is good.

Rice/Noodles – A Chinese cuisine is incomplete if you do not have rice/noodles. Try and have small quantities of it or better still invent your own dish by adding lots of vegetables and sprouts. If you want to improvise further you can add a portion of proteins like eggs, chicken or fish. As a result the dish will be high in protein, fibre and less in carbs. Also because the carbohydrate content is less your sugar levels won't spike. Hence you can have your favourite meal with a twist, but do remember to stick to your portion size. Some Indian Chinese restaurants also have options of brown rice or whole wheat noodles. Opt for these and improvise with your favourite veggies or meat.

With these points in mind you can enjoy your Chinese cuisine without having to compromise on the taste. So go ahead and enjoy a healthier and yet a delicious gastronomical treat!

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